Weird (and Wonderful) Words of Wisdom: Special Year-End Edition, Part 1

in my opinionIn My Opinion: The Seventeen Book of Very Important Persons, 1966
Edited by Enid Haupt

Today, in the holiday spirit, I’m offering something a little bit different than a typical Weird Words of Wisdom post making fun of a vintage teen advice book. (Don’t worry, we’ll get back to those in the new year.)

About This Book: For many years, Seventeen Magazine featured a regular column called “Talk to Teens.” In this space, celebrities and leaders from various fields gave advice to young readers. In My Opinion is a collection of 43 such columns.

Our old friend Enid Haupt writes in her introduction, “Opening this book is rather like walking into a large party with every guest a celebrity, and all of them eager to talk just to you.”

Actually, it reads more like a series of college commencement speeches.

Many of the authors offer good advice—and, of course, a few offer weird advice. I have to wonder how 1960s teens would have received even the best advice in this book, however, considering that most featured authors came from their parents’ generation.

Many of these essays mention the generation gap, and my impression is that the gap was widening rapidly in 1966. My mother graduated from high school in 1965, and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have found relevance in advice from people like Bennett Cerf, Burl Ives, Rosalind Russell, and Joan Crawford. (Actually, taking advice from Joan Crawford is probably a bad idea, no matter what your age.)

As we prepare to enter a new year, may these quotes provide inspiration (or, in some cases, amusement).

Quotes from In My Opinion

Jan Peerce

Jan Peerce

“…it’s so important to be flexible and to try to develop a number of interests, whether you use them for a cushion or a steppingstone. History books are full of people who stumbled onto the right path by sheer accident. And sometimes the best way to find your ultimate destination is simply to change your course.”

Jan Peerce, opera singer

kenneth tynan

Kenneth Tynan

“Nonsense is part of our birthright; and the more we are allowed to indulge in it—the more we are encouraged to make our own mistakes—the healthier we grow up to be.”

Kenneth Tynan, theater critic

sj perelman

S.J. Perelman

“My vocation, it may have leaked out to you, is that of a writer, which means that I sit in a hot little room stringing words together like beads at so many cents per bead. It’s shabby-genteel work and, on the whole, poorly paid, but I’m too fragile to drive a brewery truck and I’m too nervous to steal…In the poolrooms I frequent, it has often reached my ears that the chief advantage of being a writer is that it allows you to sleep late in the morning. Don’t believe it. You can enjoy the same privilege as a night counterman in a cafeteria, and, what’s more, in that job you can always bring home stale Danish pastries for the kiddies.”

S.J. Perelman, humorist

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford

“Though a career girl must often think like a man, she must always act like a lady…A woman in business has an enormous advantage: the fact that men are courteous. They will treat you with respect, listen when you talk and give your opinions priority. This is wonderful, of course, but don’t abuse their gallantry.”

Joan Crawford, actress

chet huntley

Chet Huntley

“The American girl is aware of most of the ingredients of beauty: posture, coiffure, make-up, costume and the rest. But she frequently quite overlooks voice and diction…To be beautiful, a girl must sound so.”

Chet Huntley, newscaster

Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck

“Sometimes talent is insufficient for earning a living and yet enough to provide for happiness. It is then worth the effort of pursuit. You will enjoy art more if you pursue it without thought of money. Pursue it for pleasure, for release, for enrichment of the mind and spirit, for simple happiness.”

Pearl S. Buck, author

Next week–advice from Shelley Winters, Pete Seeger, Rosalind Russell, Philip Roth, and others!

Other Weird Words of Wisdom posts you might enjoy:

Spanking New Edition

Where the Boys Are (You’d Better Wear a Skirt) Edition

Speak Softly and  Carry a Hot Breakfast Edition


Weird Words of Wisdom: Boring Beth and Sunshiny Sue Edition

“Develop a grand passion for the humble hard-boiled egg.”

altkoAltogether Lovely, 1960
By Charlene Johnson

About This Book and Its Author: “Different!” this book’s dust jacket announces. “That is the word which best describes this book.”

I have to agree with that. The teenage advice book market has certain subsets. Religious books, especially those from an evangelical Christian perspective, are common. So are books that focus on beauty and fashion. Not many authors attempt to combine these two perspectives.

Charlene Johnson, though, was both a model and the wife of a budding minister. Knowing nothing more about her than what’s in this book, I can tell she brings a lot of enthusiasm (as measured by exclamation points) to both roles.

Johnson usually spends most of a chapter discussing beauty and personality, then shifts to spiritual life. These transitions can be abrupt. Consider this paragraph from the chapter on skin care:

“Interesting, isn’t it? To think of the glands, pores, body oils, eyes, brows, mouth, teeth and all. How wonderfully we are made! I have often wondered how any thinking person could ever be an atheist.”

The other thing I know about Johnson is that her adolescence must have been a lot different than mine. She calls the teenage years “the most sparkling, exciting years of your life.”


Quotes from Altogether Lovely

“Everybody wants to be popular!”

“’Miss Popular Teen’ has that indescribable something known as personality. She sparkles! She’s alive!”

“(Overweight) is the biggest bar to good looks; the best looking outfit or hairdo in town just won’t look sharp on an overweight girl.”

When walking: “Keep smoothness and complete poise and regalness foremost in your mind.”

“Walk quietly, smoothly—like a bride.”

Really? Never? Even if you're at the supermarket, staring at the cereal selection or something?

Really? Never? Even if you’re at the supermarket, staring at the cereal selection or something?

“Notice people as they sit down. Observe the awkward contortions many people go through just to sit.”

Well...this one I can get behind.

Well…this one I can get behind.

On Lipstick: “Use light, bright shades. They are so much younger, so much prettier. A dark mouth is a hard mouth.”

“White gloves are a must with heels.”

Proper dress for church: “A teen-ager should always wear nylon stockings and probably French heels…A hat, white gloves and small pearl earrings are in excellent taste.”

“Parties, luncheons, and even teas are becoming a part of your social life; right?…I’m sure you know that such affairs are dressed-up occasions—meaning heels and white gloves.”


By the way, Johnson’s seminary-student husband did the illustrations for this book.

Something you probably won’t see in a current advice book for evangelical Christian teens: “The pitter patter of the teenage heart—the heartbeats, the heartaches, the heartbreaks—they’re all thrillingly yours. Enjoy every wonderful minute of teenage romance. The dating period is one of the happiest, most captivating and important experiences of your lifetime.”

“If you were the boy, which girl would you rather spend time with: (1) Boring Beth—quiet, dull, uninteresting? or (2) Sunshiny Sue—full of vim, vigor, fun, and life?”

You ain’t seen nothing yet: “If I could only tell you girls how deeply concerned I am with the shocking divorce rate in our country.” The U.S. divorce rate doubled between 1960 and 1980. It has since declined slightly.

“Being a housewife is just about the most wonderful profession in all the world for any woman…The housewife is the very center of love and sunshine and kindness in the home.”

On husbands: “Don’t completely domesticate him. Certainly there are little things he will like to do: play with the kiddies, or flip pancakes, or do the ‘man’s work’ around the home. Let him offer to help you, he wishes; don’t ever insist.”

“When he comes home for the office, make him proud of you. Look lovely—your hair combed, your appearance neat, your lipstick on, a pretty smile, and a loving kiss. See that the children are clean and the house tidy. Have dinner ready. Make him whisper deep down inside every night, ‘There’s no place like home. How lucky I am.’”

The Six Basic Personality Types and What They Wear

Sweet and feminine:“This miss is usually small in stature, soft spoken, and fair.” She should wear full skirts, pastels, and flowers in her hair.

Sporty: These types should wear “tailored, tweedy clothes” and woodsy colognes.

Queenly: “A true lady.” She likes simple, elegant clothes “and is lost without her white gloves.”

Slightly Sophisticated: She is tall, slender and “likes extremes in fashion.”

Exotic: “She has a ‘different’ look about her, and dresses to dramatize that.”

Vivacious: Full of life and pep, she “has her own happy flare for individual clothes.”

An echo in here: On the subject of makeup, Johnson writes, “Young eyes need no enhancement. They have their own sparkle and fire.” This is oddly similar to the wording in another book we’ve looked at—Once Upon a Dream by Patti Page, also published in 1960. Page wrote, “If you’re young and healthy, your eyes have enough sparkle and fire without needing any ‘extra added attractions.’” I’m not sure what to make of this. Maybe young eyes having “sparkle and fire” was part of the zeitgeist in 1960.

Other Weird Words of Wisdom posts you might enjoy:

A Million and One Tricks with a Strand of Pearls Edition

The Five Types of People Who Go All the Way Edition

Crisp White Gloves Edition

Weird Words of Wisdom: Mugging, Smooching, and Flinging the Woo Edition

“A girl who will use her head and not her lips in securing friends will find that they are the type that she can and may later love.”

Youth’s Courtship Problems, 1940
By Alfred L. Murray

About This Book and Its Author: Christian publishing house Zondervan published this book, the work of a former U.S. Navy chaplain named Alfred L. Murray. Though the book has a Christian viewpoint, it focuses on the way young people relate to each other, rather than their relationship with God. Murray is enthusiastic about the social benefits of dating, though of course he urges a conservative code of behavior.

Murray is fond of anecdotes and expert commentary. (His experts sometimes miss the mark, especially on medical topics. One thinks the frustrations of “petting” can lead to an enlarged prostate.)

This was Murray’s second book on youth courtship, and he wrote other books on various religious topics. He died in 1965, in Seabrook, New Hampshire, where he served as pastor of the Federated Church. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Fun Fact: Lamar Hunt, an influential figure in American sports, owned a “well thumbed” copy of this book during this college years, according to biographer Michael MacCambridge.

Quotes from Youth’s Courtship Problems

On “Mail-Order Dating”: “I have known at least four girls who, by correspondence, made friends with men whom they had never seen. The correspondence continued until the men proposed and the girls married them. One girl quarreled with her husband, and they separated in a few days. The second was deserted by her lover. The third went out of her mind. The fourth apparently resulted in a happy marriage.”

“Rouged cheeks and reddened lips, highly scented perfume, and bright colored fingernails are artificial and bear testimony that the person who is extravagant in display lacks good judgment and is not real…Any girl who indulges excessively in makeup appears common.”

“The moral collapse of an individual begins the moment he uses the sacred as if it were profane. One who uses the language of a kiss without discrimination is not worthy of intimate friendship…If a kiss is meaningless, what is the guarantee that life will not be judged by the same standards?”

“There is no virtue in staging public caressing parties.” I’ve got to agree with him there.

“That which differentiates necking and petting is that the first has certain powers of restraint and restrictions, while the last is noted for its liberty and license. When the time limit is removed from kissing, and fondling with the hands is introduced, the sexual urge is intensely increased.”

“It is yet too early to determine the meaning of the terms ‘mugging,’ ‘smooching,’ and ‘flinging the woo.’ If one were to guess, he might say that ‘smooching’ is necking; ‘flinging the woo’ is just love play; ‘mugging’ is petting on the heavy side.”

As an alternative to petting: “An interest must be developed in something both can share. It may be reading a book together. The Reader’s Digest will furnish one with sufficient topics to develop into interesting conversations for a date every day of the month.”

“I recently rode from Chicago to Philadelphia on a de luxe ‘crack train’ I could not find a place in the cars where women were not smoking. The were in the Pullman, the diner, and the club car…(The porter) went on to tell me that he used to make the trip and never see a woman smoke. ‘When one did come on, I knew that she was a bad woman, but now most of the women using this train smoke.’”

“I noticed that very few men on that trip were smoking. Those who did went to the lounge room and lit a cigar. The women smoked to excess and without discrimination.” I’ve never smoked in my life. Why does this book make me want to light up?

On marijuana: “It carries him out of the world of reality. But the price for this sensation is the habit, which quickly produces sexual perversion, insanity, and crime. It is the most dangerous drug in America. Those who smoke it will never be socially or morally the same.”

“There is a record of seventeen persons who attended a party, where ‘post office’ was played, having received syphilis infection. There was one infected person at the party. He kissed several girls who in turn were kissed by other fellows. All became victims of the dreaded disease.” In case you’re wondering if it’s really possible to contract syphilis through kissing—apparently, yes.  

“The girl that men like has intelligence, but she does not make a display of it.”

“When a man speaks harsh words, he is reflecting his thinking, but a woman who ‘flies off’ or appears irritated is expressing her feelings. Do not, therefore, take her little acts of unkindness too seriously. These are but emotional, not mental, reactions.”

“Women have a way of admiring the man they fear—fear because of his greatness.”

“Avoid all types of street conversations unless you are moving. It is the mark of poor breeding to stand on a street corner and carry on a conversation.”

Read the whole Weird Words of Wisdom series!

Weird Words of Wisdom: Embracing Our Nature and Destiny Edition

“Unless you are expecting to marry a militant feminist (and if you are, it might be well to reconsider what is in store for you), it is best to remember that even tomboys are actually girls who are just going through a phase, and that ‘equality’ is not the best word to describe what women really want.”

The Girl That You Marry, 1960
By Dr. James H. S. Bossard and Dr. Eleanor Stoker Boll

About This Book: A reviewers’ blurb on the dust jacket says this book will help boys learn “just why the little things that seem so foolish to him are so very important to his girl.” Indeed, the authors attempt to explain the mysterious workings of the female mind through such chapters as “She is Ritualistic and Conservative,” “She Needs Security,” and “She Wants to Be a Mother.”

Oh, the authors do admit these generalizations don’t apply to every girl. “The fact is,” they write, “that some of them are so sick mentally, or maladjusted emotionally or socially that cannot even live at peace with themselves. Among this group are the girls who are rebels against their own nature and destiny.”

By the way, if you’re wondering why teenage boys would be thinking about marriage, it’s interesting to note that the median age at first marriage in 1960 was 20 for girls and 22 for boys. In other words, half the people getting married were below those ages! In 1960, 72 percent of American adults age 18 and older were married. (Today, the median age at marriage has hit a record high in America—26 for women and 28 for men, and only half of adults age 18 and older are married.)

The Macrae Smith Company published this book, and they did a crappy job. It’s riddled with typos.

About the Authors: James H. S. Bossard was a sociology professor at the University of Pennsylvania who published frequently on marriage, family, and child development issues. Eleanor Stoker Boll, another Penn sociology professor, collaborated with him often. I can find almost no biographical information about them beyond what’s on this book’s jacket. Dr. Bossard died in January 1960, before this book hit the shelves. Dr. Boll, who wrote a follow-up book called The Man That You Marry, died in February 1997.

I became slightly obsessed with finding out if these authors were married to each other. A couple of vague hints in this book suggest they were, but I can’t confirm that. In this 1959 article about weddings (which is worth a look, if only for the photo and the sidebar on 1950s wedding costs), Dr. Bossard refers to Dr. Boll as his associate. Given their attachment to traditional gender roles, I’m curious how their academic partnership worked if they were husband and wife—and even more curious about how it worked if they weren’t.

Strange Sidelight: Both Drs. Bossard and Boll worked for the William T. Carter Foundation for Child Development at Penn. While looking for information about them, I learned about William T. Carter’s son Billy—a cad who let his wife and children fend for themselves on the Titanic. His car was the model for the car where Jack and Rose got busy in the movie Titanic.

Quotes from The Girl That You Marry

On Men and Women

“Our assumption is that the girl you are going to marry is like most American girls…She likes being a girl, and she wants to become a real woman.”

“Girls are built and designed to do certain things and boys to do different things. Girls excel in some things and lag in others, just as boys do, and the more normal the boy is and the more normal the girl he marries, the more this is apt to be the case.”

“The most secure feeling that a young bride can have is the confidence that she is married to a man…A wife looks to her husband as to Gibraltar—as a rock of strength and stability. If her husband does not prove to be that, the wife loses the comfortable feeling of having a man to rely upon for things she is not equipped by nature to do as well for herself. She also is a bit disappointed in him as a male.”

“Your wife will experience this secure sense of worthiness when you recognize her as different from you and support her femininity in a manly way.”

“A boy who has not grown up with sisters is often surprised at the quick changes of reaction and mood of his new bride. She may seem sparkling and strong one day and depleted, depressed and irritable the next few days, only to return after this to her former cheery self.”

On the Relative Importance of Clothing to Men and Women

“By ages eighteen and nineteen, the popular ages for girls to marry today, she has been reared to place great stress upon being well dressed, and with many appropriate changes. This is a necessity in the competition to attract boys and to get a husband. Later, when she is a wife, it is still necessary if her husband and children are to be proud of her and if she is to maintain her self-respect and her position as a wife and a mother among other women and men.”

“…boys have been brought up to think that being well dressed themselves is a sign of, or close to, sissiness. The male author recalls across the span of many years the day he took a brand new pair of shoes and ‘worked over’ the outside with a rough stone to take away the newness of their appearance.”

On the Importance of Wedding Symbols and Festivities to Women

“An engaged girl without a ring is perpetually aware of the unseemly nakedness of her finger. Girls take great delight in visible symbols of a man’s love for them. They differ from most men in this.”

“That strange community of females that finds such romance in these occasions will probably take up her time, and yours, increasingly with showers and parties…Added this this, the girl has new and absorbing interests. The hope chest must be equipped. Every new acquisition is exciting to a girl who is picturing its use in your home and hers. Fortunate is the boy who has, or can assume, interest in guest towels and double damask dinner napkins…”

“Were you to become President of the United States, you would probably not want to be inaugurated in private. Her wedding is just as important as that to her.”

On “Sexual Adjustment”

“It has quite generally been found true that the girl who has the least petting experience before marriage is the girl apt to take longest for satisfactory sexual adjustment in marriage. And practically everyone who has questioned large groups of boys about their attitudes on premarital sex experiences finds that boys, many of whom are quite willing to exploit other girls, want their own to have had practically no petting experience.”

“Your bride, if she loves you, will comply with your wishes often, without any resistance whatsoever, in spite of surrounding conditions, and you will both find a kind of satisfaction.”

On Homemaking

“…girls are reared to be domestic, to think of homemaking as a very important job. The girl who is happy about being a girl loves this job and wants to do it in the best possible way.”

“A husband should no more try to direct his wife’s housekeeping than she should try to direct his business.”

“When the woman from next door drops in, or the boss and his wife come for dinner, no one will blame the husband if the house is ill-kept and the food unpalatable and badly served. They will only pity him…And strangely enough, those same husbands who care not what conditions the lady next door may drop in upon, swell with pride when the boss praises “your charming home” and “the little woman’s dinner party.”

“She wants to please you. Be patient with her and encourage her, and you may be the prime factor in turning an experienced young girl into the chef of chefs.”

On Parenthood

“Adult males who are physically and mentally healthy, usually are quite aware of the importance of their part in reproduction and, at some time in their lives, feel like less than whole men if they have never played their role in creating a new life. How much more is this true of the female, whose whole body has been shaped by nature for the role of motherhood.”

“The conservatism of the female, which tends to be greater than that of the male throughout life, reaches its peak at the time of motherhood and the rearing of children…As a matter of fact, some of the giddiest girls become the most conservative mothers.”

“A group of fathers in Long Island, New York, has formed a Society of Frustrated Fathers. All their children are girls and as the dads put it, ‘Girls are fine but they don’t play football.’ So these fathers meet to do together and to talk about the things they would talk about at home had they sons of their own.”

And one of the weirdest, most WTF observations ever

“Some psychiatric therapists who work with children and their mothers have told us they think some high-grade morons make better mothers for small children than do well educated and intellectual mothers…What they mean is this: A woman of low mentality can endure and enjoy the constant association with small children, and without strain, because she is mentally in gear with them.”

Read the whole Weird Words of Wisdom series!

Weird Words of Wisdom: Speak Softly and Carry a Hot Breakfast Edition

“It is not enough, if you want to be liked, if you want to be loved, to be merely good. You also have to fight for the good things you want. You have to compete with other girls. What’s more you have to make up your mind to win. Otherwise you’ll not have your pick of the best boys. You’ll only have what’s left over.”

Once Upon a Dream: A Personal Chat with All Teenagers, 1960
By Patti Page

About the Book: Patti Page opens up about her own weaknesses and insecurities as she tells young fans her Cinderella story–a story that transformed Clara Ann Fowler, “that shy, overfed, part Cherokee choir singer from Claremore, Oklahoma,” into a “Singing Rage.” (Although a Cinderella motif pervades the book, the title references a song from Walt Disney’s 1959 film Sleeping Beauty.)

As we’ve seen before in this series, celebrity-written advice books for teens proliferated in the 1950s and early 1960s. While I always wonder how much the celebrities actually “wrote,” I found this book’s voice consistent and believable.

About Patti Page: All I knew about Patti Page going into this book was that she sang “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?” and “The Tennessee Waltz.” The latter was one of the best-selling songs of all time, and Page was the top-selling female artist in the 1950s.

Her rags-to-riches story had a genuinely ragged start—she was the 10th of 11 children, and money was so scarce that she sometimes went to school barefoot. In this book, she tells a moving story about the time she wanted a Mickey Mouse watch so badly that she made one out of paper.

She made up her mind to escape poverty and began to plan for a career as a commercial artist. She took a job making posters at a Tulsa radio station, soon found herself performing on the air whenever they needed a girl singer, and was “discovered” when band manager Jack Rael passed through town and heard her voice on the radio.

To her teenage readers, Page presents herself as shy and insecure, with ongoing weight issues. She talks about a period in her life when she burst into tears after every performance, and she uses the language of psychoanalysis freely.

She writes a lot about her husband, choreographer Charles O’Curran, whom she married in 1956. She doesn’t mention that she had an earlier, short-lived marriage, or that she was O’Curran’s third wife (Betty Hutton was his second). Page and O’Curran would divorce in 1972.

I’ve chosen some of Page’s sillier-sounding statements to feature here, but this book actually gives plenty of good advice. She encourages girls to be themselves, to care about others, and to develop their minds. Though she has a typically 1950s obsession with “femininity,” she advises girls against playing dumb and against letting boys get in the way of their dreams. She even manages to talk about religion without sounding preachy.

Today, at 85, Page is still performing.

Quotes from Once Upon a Dream: Inner and Outer Beauty

“Charm is simply the art of being pleasing…charm is the magic wand that can transform an ugly duckling into a princess, or a shy quiet type into the belle of the ball.”

“The girl who thinks she can get by with an overweight figure by calling attention to her face is only fooling herself. Eventually people notice her figure too. In the same way, the gayest of hats will not make up for a shabby pair of shoes. A tight-fitting sweater is a poor substitute for a bad complexion. No matter how elaborately you do your hair, which may be your good feature, how long do you really think it will keep people from noticing your teeth, which may not be so good?”

Examples that prove personality is more important than beauty: Helen Hayes, Lynn Fontanne, Katharine Cornell, Mary Martin, Ethel Merman. (“True, they’re older now than when they first rose to fame on Broadway, but even in their youth they were never what we might call great beauties.”)

“Once a week…is usually enough to keep the average girl’s hair clean. Thursday or Friday night’s the best time to do it—so you’re all set to look your best for the week-end.” Ew. If I followed this schedule, even as a middle-aged woman, my scalp could help America achieve energy independence.

“If you’re young and healthy, your eyes have enough sparkle and fire without needing any ‘extra added attractions.’ Besides, if you’re an adolescent, you’re mysterious enough. Mascara and eye shadow would make you positively inscrutable.”

“It’s impossible to apply rouge so that it looks natural on tender young cheeks…If you feel you’ve absolutely no color at all, I’d rather you pinched your cheeks—as grandmother used to. After all, she got her man.”

“A lipstick should not only blend with your own coloring but with the color of your dress.”

“The more inconspicuous your clothes, the better. “You don’t want them to distract attention from you. (It is only older women who tend to wear startling colors and daring designs to make up for tired faces and bad figures.)” She’s starting to hurt my feelings now.

Getting Along with Boys

“If you can’t be empathetic, at least be observant, especially when it comes to boys. It’s not so hard to figure out what gives them pleasure and what makes their hair stand on end.”

“Very often, for women especially, conversational ability is only a talent for listening rather than for talking. Of all the women I know, the one I have most often heard described as a brilliant conversationalist scarcely says a world. But when she sits listening to a man, she looks at him as intently as though he were first man she had ever met, and as though speech were something he had just invented.”

“Passion is violence. It is loss of reason. It is a loss of control so complete that it’s too late to say yes, no, or maybe…So the only way to handle an invitation to passion is to say No! And make the reason for your no a moral one.”

“…at one time, a woman’s greatest pride before marriage was in her chastity. It was proof she was good and pure in heart. It meant she had something precious and rather wonderful to give to the one man of her choice. But to take away this pride in virtue and to joke, as some people do, about virginity is to cheapen something rather wonderful. To indulge in sex as a biological act, rather than an expression of love, is to strip a woman’s life of dignity, meaning, and fulfillment.”

“For all their teasing and loose talk, boys—and men, too—are really looking for a girl with the courage to have standards and the wisdom to say no. It’s true, if you say no, there’s a chance you’ll never see the young man again. But there’s an even greater chance he’ll ask you to marry him.”

“There are, so far as I know, only two types of males who don’t resent an aggressive female, and I don’t think you want either of them. One is the vain ladies’ man who waits for girls to call him. He appreciates each call. It’s a tribute, he feels, to his irresistible charms. But this type of man is incapable of love. He can love only himself. The second is the weakling type, with a domineering mother, who likes girls who take charge because they remind him of his mother.”

About the kind of girl who’s a pal to boys: “This type of girl, like most people on earth, eventually does get married. It isn’t necessarily a romantic marriage. In fact, it’s usually a sensible one. But it works because both husband and wife are comfortable.”

“If you will just remember that woman’s traditional role is to help a man make something of himself, you will realize that there is always the chance that you can help the drip of today become the man of the moment tomorrow.”

“When you’re shopping for a dress, do you like to have three to choose from or thirty? Well, it seems to me that choosing a husband is a much more vital decision. And how can a girl be sure she’s making the right choice if she only knows the three or four boys she’s gone steady with?”

“And necking, contrary to popular belief, is not a way to hold a boy—it’s a sure way to lose him. No boy values anything that is too easily won. What’s more, nothing remains static. Necking either develops into something more, after a while, or it dies. Either way, you stand a good chance of the boy’s losing interest in you.”

Marriage and Femininity

“My advice to you is to have a career—not instead of marriage but before it. A career is not only, in my opinion, your best preparation for marriage, but the most enjoyable way to pass the time until you’re over 21 and ready for marriage.”

“…your generation seems to know—at a much younger age than I ever did—that for a truly feminine woman, the only true answer to life is a marriage based on true love.”

On keeping her weight down: “…it’s no longer a matter of professional pride alone. Loving my husband, I have also learned what it means to be a woman. So it’s now a matter of personal pride—the pride of a woman who is loved—that I be as pleasing as I can to my husband. (And my husband just doesn’t happen to like overweight women.)”

“…many men in enumerating the qualities they expect of the ideal woman or the model wife say, ‘Above all she must have a soft voice.’”

An interesting quote, considering that she and her husband had both been married before: “Divorce takes a terrible emotional toll. Something that is sweet and lovely and trusting seems to vanish forever from your life. Sure, you can make a second, more sensible marriage, but it won’t be the romance the first one was when you had the thrill of sharing that first apartment, that first ice cube, maybe even that first baby.” First ice cube?

“…the only way to get a man to come home every night and want to stay there is simply to make your home the place where he enjoys himself the most.”

“I think you’ll find, when your married, that it isn’t nearly so important for you to be interesting as it is to make your husband feel that he’s interesting.”

“The main purpose of marriage, which some people forget, is not just to find someone to share a life with, it’s to raise children. This is why you were born, and why you used to play with dolls.”

“I read somewhere that 60 percent of American husbands get their own breakfasts while their wives stay in bed. To me, this is a sign of trouble…How can (a wife) expect her husband’s continued love if she won’t even get up when he does and see him off to work?”

If you enjoyed this post, take a look at the whole Weird Words of Wisdom series.

And, if you want to see Page in action, here is a 1956 episode of The Patti Page Show.

Weird Words of Wisdom: Where the Boys Are (You’d Better Wear a Skirt) Edition

Connie Francis (suitably skirted)

“Never wear slacks on a date, unless it’s a rugged outdoor picnic or an evening at an amusement park. Otherwise, I think slacks are an insult to a boy.”

For Every Young Heart, 1963

By Connie Francis

About the Book: We’ve encountered celebrity advice books before in this series, but Connie Francis is both our first female celebrity author. Of course, one always has to wonder how much “authoring” these celebrities did. Francis’ book feels more authentic than most. Her advice—both the good stuff and the weird stuff—feels specific and individual. Knowing little about Francis when I picked up this book, I quickly formed a clear mental image of her—tough, smart, moody, romantic, and ambivalent about her parents’ influence in her life.

About the Author: I’m always happy to write about an author who’s still alive. Connie Francis is a survivor, in every sense of the word. As a teenager, she appeared on a TV variety show called Startime Kids, and she received much criticism about her looks and weight during those years. Her recording career was slow to take off, and she was on the verge of giving up when American Bandstand made Who’s Sorry Now? her first hit in 1958. (She had brains to fall back on—she received a scholarship to New York University and was planning to study medicine.) And as an adult, she would endure many tragedies (which I don’t want to write about here, lest it ruin the mood for laughing at her fashion, beauty, and dating tips.)

Okay, Then—Let’s Start With Hair Care: “Going to the beauty parlor is an art in itself. Some ladies lean back, close their eyes, and snooze. Others read movie magazines or daydream. This is okay if you’re over forty and have money. But it’s not for you…Sit up and take notice.”

“Wash your hair with regular shampoo, rinse thoroughly, then soak with beer just before setting. It adds tremendous body to fine or limp hair.” (Note: You have to leave the beer, open, outside the refrigerator for two or three days prior to use.)

On Teasing Your Hair: “This is one of the most useful tricks a girl can learn. It involves back-combing the hair from underneath, which adds body, so that with very little curl you can make your hair look like something special. Right this minute, my hair needs setting, but if I had to go out unexpectedly I could whip it into a definite bouffant style by teasing, hold it with hair spray and breeze out for the evening with perfect confidence.”

On Washing Your Hair, Um, Frequently?: “My hair is very oily, so every three days it gets washed.”

On Fashion: “The little black dress or navy suit is the backbone of my wardrobe. I have five or six basic outfits that can go anywhere, from the office in the morning to dinner at the Stork Club and dancing at the Peppermint Lounge at night. The only change I need is a scarf or a piece of jewelry.

On Fashion for Petite Girls: “So instead of buying three strands, you buy one. Instead of the big chalk beads, you buy little ones. And if everything you wear is small, like you, you’ll have a larger overall appearance. Stay away from medium or heavy patterns, circular designs, and two-tone outfits. Verticals give you height. Solid colors, small all-over patterns, and lightweight, clingy fabrics are most flattering.”

On Makeup: “Dark minimizes, light accentuates…For instance, my nose is too wide, so I always use a darker makeup on its sides than on the rest of my face.”

On Lipstick: “For most women, this is a good rule: Darker by night, lighter by day, and always coordinated with the color of your outfit.”

On Brows: “The outer line of the eyebrow should end a 45-degree angle from the tip of your nose.”

On Eyeliner: “This is the most valuable cosmetic I ever found. After experimenting with many kinds, I think black pancake makeup is ideal.”

Getting Along with Boys

“…from the age of nine or ten, (a girl is) more alive, happier, and more of a person with a male around. It doesn’t matter how old he is—nine or ten like herself, twenty-two or eight-five, married or single. All he has to be is male.”

How 11-Year-Old Connie Learned “a New, Improved Formula for Getting Along with Men”: At a Halloween party, she encountered a boy named Eugene who had been picking on her at school:

“And then—whether it was the costume or the lipstick or the fact that I really did feel like a gypsy princess for one wonderful night—a strange thing happened. A lovely, soft, feminine feeling crept over me, transforming the glare to an angel’s smile. Instinctively, I minced forward, lowered my eyes shyly and cooed, “Hel-loo…”

“G-g-gosh!” Eugene breathed, “you look pretty!” “Oh,” I said coyly, “do you really think so?” Half an hour later, there I sat, perched on a cold radiator, collecting kisses from the stag line—and now it was the other girls turn to glare!”

Connie’s First Real Date: A showing of should It Should Happen to You with Judy Holliday and Jack Lemmon, and a second feature of Francis Joins the WACS with Donald O’Connor. (She got so disgusted with her date’s loud guffaws that she stormed out of the theater and went home. If he was laughing at Francis Joins the WACS, I can understand her reaction.)

Telling Tales on Herself: That is one of several unflattering stories Connie tells about herself. Others include the times Connie:

•        Beat up a fellow seventh-grade girl

•        Got into a shoving match with an overweight male classmate on her first day of high school

•        Threw a cup of coffee across the room and stormed out the studio after recording Who’s Sorry Now?

Dating Don’ts

“There are certain places a girl should never go alone, or even with another girl—certain hangouts, bowling alleys, bars, and other places where boys tend to gather and girls don’t.”

“Don’t ever stand near a bar and talk. Never drink at a bar, even if you’re drinking ginger ale.”

“Most people can tell right away who’s a lady, just by the way she talks. And the quickest way to lower yourself in the eyes of anyone—a boy, especially, is to use even one unladylike word.”

“Every man likes a woman to allow him to be a man. Unfortunately, some women, especially in the United States, don’t allow men to be men. They do everything for themselves, because they’re always trying to prove how independent they are.”

“A woman who doesn’t expect the little courtesies isn’t a lady, and a man who doesn’t perform them isn’t a gentleman…I think an unmannerly man is 95 percent the woman’s fault.”

On Sharing Expenses on a Date: “Out. Not under any circumstances should a woman touch one nickel of her own money on a date, unless she’s stranded 50 miles from home and her date needs 15 cents for a subway token. But why get in such a silly fix, anyway?”

“A girl who goes out deliberately to get picked up lives dangerously. And most boys will assume that she’s what she probably is.”

Dating Dos

“Of course, the best way for a girl to be interesting to a boy is to be interested in him. I’ve sat through many an evening not knowing what on earth my date was talking about, but just nodding and smiling and looking at him very, very intently, and occasionally putting in a word of my own like ‘Really!’ or ‘My goodness!’—and he’s walked away thinking ‘Gee, what a brilliant conversation we had!’”

“Anyhow, not only does a kiss on the first date not compromise a girl’s reputation, but nowadays a boy expects it. That doesn’t make it right, of course, but it doesn’t make it wrong, either. A girl knows instinctively the kind of boy she can trust and the kind she can’t. She can sense when a boy respects her, and if a date doesn’t have any real feeling of warmth and friendship for you, he doesn’t deserve a kiss—or a second date, either.”

“The one unfailing way to let a boy know you like him is this: Tell him. I believe letting a boy know in a very lighthearted, casual way that won’t embarrass either of us…When we’re standing in line for a movie or waiting to get into a restaurant, I’ll say: ‘Know something? I like you,’ very casually, then change the subject.”

“As far as necking is concerned, there’s nothing wrong with it in moderation, if there’s a warm, respectful feeling between two people.”

Suggested questions to get dates to open up: “Are you a lonely person? Are you Happy? If you had 48 hours to yourself, what would you like to do most?”

Putting on the Brakes

“If a boy really loves you as much as he says, he’ll want to put a ring on your finger.”

“A girl can become sexually aroused just as quickly and irrationally as any boy. She wasn’t born with any handy ‘monitor’ that automatically helps her put on the brakes, but she has to develop one in her mind in order to protect her self-respect and reputation.”

(Connie wasn’t just talking the talk about chastity. In 1984, she told People Magazine that when she married her first husband, at age 26, it was because “because I wanted to have sex.” That marriage only lasted three months.)

With the Above Said, the Most Racy-Sounding Passage in the Book, if Taken Out of Context: “I finally had to force myself to have fun. I went to Europe and Las Vegas and forced myself to date one boy after another. I kept dating until I found the feelings I had for one or two boys weren’t so fantastic after all. I found, in fact, that I could feel just as happy and have just as good a time with 25 others.”

Connie’s First Real Love (Bobby Darin?): “I was in love in my teens, and at the time it was the most important thing in the world to me. Every day, because I was in love and my parents didn’t approve, there was an argument at home. School became secondary. My singing became unimportant compared to my feelings for this boy. The day was happy or sad depending on what he said to me or what I said to him, or what my parents said or didn’t say about him or me or us. Then, when we did break up, it took me just as long or longer to get over it.”

It’s tempting to assume she’s talking about Bobby Darin here. Certainly the part about parental disapproval fits. Here’s an exchange she had last year with Village Voice blogger Michael Musto:

Musto: Your father was extremely strict, right?

(Connie): He wasn’t just strict — he was a vigilante with every boy I had a milkshake with. I was not allowed to date in high school or go to the prom, and even in college he had a problem.

(Musto): Is it true he broke up you and Bobby Darin?

Connie: With a gun. He learned Bobby and I were starting to elope one night. We were 18, 19. I was doing the Jackie Gleason show and Bobby and I were cuddling in a corner. He barged through the rehearsal room of the Sullivan Theater with a gun in his pocket and a fierce determination to obliterate Bobby once and for all. One of the biggest regrets of my life is I didn’t marry Bobby.

In For Every Young Heart, some of Francis’ ambivalence toward her parents comes through. She describes how she taught herself shorthand because her mother was always snooping in her diary. She also talks about how she learned a confusing version of “the facts of life” in a whispered conversation with a girlfriend because her parents never told her anything.

“Every child has a right to know about life,” she asserts. “The day a youngster asks his first question about sex is the day he deserves an answer.”

Connie’s Ideal Husband: “He shouldn’t be overemotional, yet he must be very affectionate, responsive and warm. His laugh shouldn’t be so loud that everybody turns around to look, but he has to have a wonderful sense of humor. He has to be subtle and self-contained—the type who can say two words and I’ll understand; a man who can look at me across the room, and every look will mean something. Oh, yes, and he has to be very smart, alert, witty. He has to know he’s the boss without saying, ‘Listen here, I’m the boss.’ He can’t shout at me, but he’ll know just how to tell me what to do, because every woman loves to be ordered around the right way.”

Hmm. You start to get an inkling about why none of her four marriages lasted longer than five years.

More Wisdom from For Every Young Heart:

“The opinion that smoking is a drag—on your health, most of all—is pretty modern these days. Every day, new data piles up pointing to possible links between cigarettes and lung cancer.”

“If a boy has never been in a bar or never tried to drink or smoke by the time he’s out of his teens, he would be very unusual. These are things most boys have to experience in order to feel grown up and manly.”

“The only time a boy may have a feeling of responsibility for himself and girl is when he’s deeply in love, when he has a true feeling of respect for her, and when he’s far-sighted enough to think of the future, including the day they’ll want to get married with a fresh, wholesome start toward life together. But 99 percent of the time, the boy doesn’t feel this way, and that means the girl has to.”

“A girl must always have the kind of reputation that will make a boy very, very proud to take her home and introduce her to his mother.”

“…there’s just one reason for going steady, and that’s as a prelude to engagement.”

“Not only does a wife have to be a mother, friend, advisor, and scrubwoman—she must also never let her husband feel that it’s a great burden for her.”

“In my teens, I used to think it was the most important thing in the world for a woman to be tremendously independent. But I know now that no matter how independent you are, if you really love a man, nine times out of ten his wishes are more important than yours.”

“I will want nothing less than a big wedding, in a pretty church, with all my family and all my friends there to share it. That’s a girl’s one big day, and anybody who says you’re not entitled to it because it’s corny is not going to make the greatest or most understanding husband.”

If you enjoyed this post, read the whole Weird Words of Wisdom series!

Bonus Feature: Connie singing what I’m officially declaring the Weird Words of Wisdom theme song.

Bonus Feature 2: More advice from Connie! This article from the October 1961 issue of Teen Talk Magazine is called “Who Should Say No First?”

Weird Words of Wisdom: Crisp White Gloves Edition

“Above all, don’t arrive at the breakfast or dinner table, or go downtown shopping, with hair up and guard down. Boys (including fathers and brothers) should think that beauties are born, not made—even though all girls know better!”

The Co-Ed Book of Charm and Beauty, 1962 (1963 printing)

By the Editors of Co-Ed Magazine

About the Book: For the latest entry in my series on vintage advice books for teens, we turn to this Scholastic book club offering, chock full of advice for improving every aspect of a girl’s looks and personality. The fashion section makes me sad that I was born too late for hats and little white gloves, though I’m happy to live without girdles and curlers.

About the Authors: Scholastic published Co-Ed Magazine from 1957 to 1985. According to the New York Times, Co-Ed targeted girls in the home economics field. (Scholastic replaced the magazine with Choices, a classroom magazine for teens of both sexes, which still exists.) As we have seen in the past, Margaret Hauser edited Co-Ed Magazine for many years, and she and other Scholastic personnel often wrote advice books under the pseudonym Gay Head. It’s a shame they didn’t do so with this one—that name would make a lovely complement with the cover image.

Hair setting techniques, The Co-Ed Book of Charm and Beauty

Recommended Amount of Time to Devote to Bathing and Beauty Treatments: An hour each night, extended to two hours once a week and to three or four hours once a month for intensive maintenance.

Fashion Tips

“Short white gloves are never out of place, and there are many occasions when not to wear them would show a lack of good taste. Gloves are a ‘must’ at church, at weddings, and most really dress-up affairs.”

“A movie date, a stroll in the park, a casual gathering of your friends, or a shopping expedition should see you skirted casually, perhaps in the outfits you wear to school. A date that’s somewhat special, a church activity, concerts, the theater, and informal school dances call for a suit or that old stand-by, the basic dress…A basic dress takes to a hat, high heels, and crisp white gloves as well as to flat shoes and an all-purpose cardigan. It can go almost anywhere and be your Sunday best.”

“Special finery must be special all the way, from sparkling earrings and delicate bracelet to petite evening bag and satin, suede, or velvet slippers. Such grand occasions permit you to bare your neck and shoulders; to float in chiffon, taffeta, peau de soie, or fine cotton organdy; to wear a jeweled pin and stars in your eyes!”

“You’ll wear a hat to church, of course, but what’s the rule for other times? It’s good taste to wear a hat when traveling, on ‘downtown’ shopping trips, and whenever you know other women or girls will be wearing them.”

“When you’re within the walls of your home, don’t fall into the ‘nobody will see me’ rut. What about your family? What about the neighbors and store clerks who see you as you dash to the store on a last-minute errand for mother? They’ll view with horror, and remember with regret, the vision of you in pin curls, shirttail flying.”

Recommended at-home wear: Skirts or culottes, pants or Bermudas, with classic shirts or knit tops.

“On occasion, treat (your family) to the pleasure of seeing you in pretty separates or a dress at dinnertime—a ‘must’ if company is present.”

“Ankle socks or knee socks pair with sturdy school shoes, while you’ll want to wear nylons with soft ballet-type flats and little heels. Sneakers are for sports and after school.”

Make-up Tip: “A bit of petroleum jelly applied to eyelids, brows, and lashes, will make the eyes sparkle, lashes look longer, and brows stay neatly in place.” (I hate when my brows wander.)

Fragrance Recommendations by Personality Type

Single Floral: For girls who are “sweet, fragile, feminine.”

Floral Bouquet: For “the All-American girl, crazy for football and hi-fi, happy in the thick of things, always ready for fun.”

Spicy: For girls who are “alert, alive, mad for bright colors and songs with a beat.”

Woodsy-Mossy: For “the born athlete who lives in shorts and sweaters and delights in long walks in the rain.”

Oriental Blend: For “the intense, dramatic type of person who looks great in unusual jewelry, offbeat styles.”

Fruity: For “the quiet kind of girl who thinks more than she talks, enjoys soft music, serious books, daydreaming.” (I’m fruity, apparently.)

Modern Blend: Good if “you’re always on the go, always in the know, a clever girl with lots of zip and a wonderful sense of humor.”

Sample exercises

Clothes and Body Type:

“If you’re over five feet six inches tall and weigh 125 pounds or less, lucky you! You have the fashion model’s ideal figure.”
DOs for this type: Shirt-waist dresses, bold prints (including “coin-size polka dots”), large accessories.
DON’Ts: Too slim skirts, deep V necklines, vertical stripes.

Girls 5’6” and over, weighing “135 or thereabouts” (Anything higher than this is too terrible to contemplate, I guess)
DOs: Vertical and diagonal stripes, middy collars, cardigan tops, three-quarter sleeves, straight or gently flared skirts.
DON’Ts: Princess dress lines, pleated skirts.
“If you’re pining for a print, pick the ‘teeny-weeny’ polka dot, a calico, or baby-check ginghams.”

Girls 5’3” and under, weighing 105 or less
DOs: “The princess line, with its snug-fitting bodice and flared skirt,” straight sheaths, softly tailored suits, delicate buttons and jewelry, knife-pleated skirts.
DON’Ts: Bold-patterned prints, “suitcase-sized handbags.”

Girl 5’3” and under, weighing 115 or more
DOs: Skirts with “gentle gores or center pleats,” narrow self-belts, cardigan-topped outfits.
DON’Ts: Pencil-slim sheaths, ballooning skirts, deep V-necks, box pleats, overlong jackets, “giant trimmings.”

Sitting, Standing, and Walking Attractively

Sitting: “Try the S curve. Knees together (always—even when wearing shorts or slacks), place your thighs diagonally across the seat of the chair, your legs in the opposite direction, and cross your feet at the ankles.”

Standing: “Stand with correct posture, feet parallel. Step back with one foot and point that toe out at a forty-five degree angle. Keep the front foot straight, the heel a couple of inches away from the instep of the back foot, and turn your hips slightly toward the back foot (so that they present a slim line).”

Walking: “Beware of arms swinging, taking too long (or short) a stride, letting your chin lead and your derriere follow as it may…Your ‘bounce’ should be less than two inches…If you consciously let your fingertips brush your skirt as you walk, you’ll avoid that ‘swinging out’ look.”

Fearless Charm Inventory: The book includes inventories to help girls assess their charm levels. To the authors’ credit, they include prejudice, along with shyness and laziness, as a barrier to charm. The original owner of my book was not prejudiced or lazy, just shy.

Goody! Quizzes!: The book also includes quizzes on humor, tact, family interactions, and dating etiquette. Quizzes were always my favorite part of teen magazines. I think the wrong answers on the tact quiz may be a wee bit too obvious, though:

“I should have known you were sick because…”

a.)    You look so awful.

b.)    I missed seeing you around.

c.)    Sally’s been dating your boyfriend.

Final Fun Fact, Courtesy of the Authors: “The word grooming comes from gromet, an old French word meaning ‘servant’ or ‘assistant.’ Before you jump to the wrong conclusion, bridegroom comes from a combination of two Anglo-Saxon words: ‘bryd’ (bride) and ‘guma’ (man)!”